Like many of you, I heard about this remake before I saw any previews. I was skeptical. I loved the original for the campiness and innocent feel the college actors brought to the table. Then I saw a preview. Still wasn’t sold. Then I learned the original director, producer, and star were involved and gave their seal of approval. Now I was intrigued.
Too bad I didn’t listen to those first instincts.
The Evil Dead follows much of the same story as the original. Five young adults are spending the weekend in a decrepit cabin in the woods, miles from civilization. In the remake, they’re there to help Mia (played by Jane Levy) kick her drug habit. Two of her life-long friends Eric, the annoying know-it-all teacher, and Olivia, who just so happens to be a nurse, are along for support. We mustn’t forget Mia’s brother, David, who has abandoned the family long ago and recently resurfaced with his girlfriend, Natalie, to support his sister. Turns out someone broke into their family cabin. GASP!
After a quick search, they find no one…or the 30,000 dead cats in the basement either. So our fearless fivesome proceed to “make this place livable.” Mia makes it a few hours before she starts screaming and throwing tantrums for some drugs. Meanwhile, Eric decides to open something wrapped in barbed wire and garbage bags because…we don’t know. When he opens it, he discovers a book bound in human flesh. Now most of us would not touch the book further, but not Eric. He’s a teacher! He’s smart! It seems like Eric’s only purpose in this film was to open the book and read it aloud…exactly what it says NOT to do.
Something comes out of the woods and starts possessing our hapless heroes. Chaos, blood, and dismemberment follow.
What I liked.
- The special effects were awesome. The burns looked real. Blood, blood, everywhere! Severed limbs, cut flesh, all looked great.
- The sound. Even though I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money watching this at the theater, the sound alone almost makes up for that. Disembodied voices come at you from all angles. The gross sounds of sawing flesh, puke, and other scary noises was one of the highlights of this film.
- Jane Levy. The actress who plays Mia did an excellent job. I believed she was terrified in the beginning when things were trying to possess her. After she was possessed, she became a whole different being. Again, her performance almost makes this film bearable.
What I didn’t like.
- The script. I can hear some of you grumble that this is only a horror movie. I don’t care. Any good movie starts with a good script. This movie had a few good ideas that didn’t pan out because the script was so thin. I spent much of the movie shaking my head in disbelief because I didn’t believe the characters would do many of the things they did. They lacked motivation. When Natalie (who no one other than David knows) is sent for some lifesaving supplies, she stops to check on possessed Mia. It doesn’t make sense. Someone is going to die if she doesn’t get back ASAP, yet she stops to check on someone she has no reason to check on. Don’t get me started on Eric. All he does is bitch, moan, and unleash the demons. When demons are running amok, he calls David a coward for always running away throughout their lives. What? There were simply too many plotholes and no rational character motivations. The home-made defibrillator was the best. Get an old car battery, some needles, and some wires to connect them, and you too can bring people back from the dead!
- The acting. I’m sorry, but Shiloh Fernandez was horrible as David. I don’t know if he was intentionally trying to show no emotion, but that’s what audiences are treated to. I never believed he cared for anyone, at any time. The same goes for Lou David Pucci, who played Eric. I didn’t believe he had a relevant purpose in the movie. Part of that was due to the script, but there’s a part where he’s whining why everything isn’t all right. All he does is talk in little more than a whisper. He says things like, “we’re all going to die,” but it was so nonchalantly acted that I laughed.
- Doors slamming every ten minutes. Seriously, every time something was about to happen, a door slammed. It was annoying after the second time, but they just kept doing it.
- A dog named Grandpa. I didn’t have a problem with them having a dog. I just didn’t see the point. He didn’t do anything and is killed rather early in the film, but we don’t see how, or why. We’re led to believe Mia did it (it was her dog) but that part is quickly brushed under the rug.
- The book of the dead. Look, I didn’t mind the concept behind the book. I had problems with a lack of reasoning behind anything in the book. It was like someone came up with what they thought were cool ideas and threw them in there. In order to save the possessed soul you have to either dismember them, bury them alive, or burn them alive. Why? Because the book says so. How would killing them save their soul? Because the book says so.
- The atmosphere. The cabin, and surrounding woods, didn’t feel creepy. When we see the cabin, it just looks like a rundown shack and not a foreboding death house. The whole possession angle hinges on our group of heroes being isolated and stranded, trapped. Other than them showing the overflowing river (which happens in a matter of hours), I didn’t feel like they had to stay in the cabin. I wondered why they didn’t leave, more than once.
- The prologue moment. Other than explain why there were a million dead cats strung up in the basement, and how the book was there, the prologue left me scratching my head. We never see those people again. It didn’t make sense, or fit in with the rest of the movie.
This movie suffers from poor direction and an even poorer script. Coincidentally, they were both done by the same person, Fede Alvarez. Instead of an intelligent horror film, audiences are treated to one bloody moment after another with no apparent reason. It felt like the director was trying too hard to gross the audience out instead of making a good film, and it shows. Halfway through the movie I said out loud, “I don’t care.” And that’s exactly how the actors interacted with each other on screen. They didn’t seem to care about one another either. Without a good story any movie will fail. And that’s exactly what this film does, fail. If all you’re looking for is gore, see The Evil Dead. That’s one of the few things they get right. For those of you looking for a good movie, skip it. It’s not worth your time, or money.